Aug 4, 2008

Who Speaks for Evangelical Christians?

By Elwood McQuaid

It’s been rather amusing over the years to observe those who think they call the shots for evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians when it comes to making social or political decisions in American life.

Gurus of the far left and their militant minority of social-revolutionary comrades relish depicting evangelicals as bigoted, out-of-the-loop reactionaries whom the planet would be better rid of. Short of accomplishing that objective, their strategy is to paint us as the cause of everything that’s wrong with America and make us fair game for ridicule, odious caricature, and outright scorn.

Jewish journalist Don Feder hit the mark when he said the following in his 1993 book, A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America:

Christians are the only group Hollywood can offend with impunity, the only creed it actually goes out of its way to insult. Clerics, from fundamentalist preachers to Catholic monks, are routinely represented as hypocrites, hucksters, sadists, and lechers. The tenets of Christianity are regularly held up to ridicule.

The late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, a true Christian intellectual and theologian, saw this coming and warned us about it in his 1970 book, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century. In his foreword he asked and answered a fundamental question:

Does the church have a future in our generation? . . . I believe the church is in real danger. It is in for a rough day. We are facing present pressures and a present and future manipulation which will be so overwhelming in the days to come that they will make the battles of the last forty years look like child’s play.

The Monolith Myth

Have you ever taken the time to wonder why elitist, left-wing social revolutionaries expend so much time and effort attempting to marginalize evangelicals? They work tirelessly to ensure that we have no shred of credibility, get no shot at substantive discussions in the major news media, and get no respect (but heaps of unbridled hostility) when egregious manifestations of moral turpitude are called into question.

If, as our detractors claim, we are little more than a gang of mindless slugs feeding off the rants of a few religious demagogues, why do they bother? It seems a waste to spend such energy criminalizing our social significance if we are not up to speed on the latest revelations of mystic self-awareness or the liberating aspects of herbal detoxification. It seems more reasonable to assume that pity and a hand to lift us up would be preferable to aggravated contempt.

There are, of course, many reasons radical liberals detest us, not the least of them being numbers. For all of the guesses at how many Christians loosely labeled “evangelicals” exist in America, the statistics turn out to be impressive. Estimates run from 50 million to perhaps 70 million. Those are big numbers. If all those people could be unified, no matter what their collective intellectual capacity is, they would represent a force to be reckoned with.

Truth be told, however, evangelicals are not a monolithic group. We don’t all march to the same drummer—the one or two self-proclaimed proprietors of the entire so-called Christian right. That is not to say there are no leaders who make a difference with their constituencies. But there is not one or two; there are many. And despite the oratory of some, there are no national, anointed, evangelical figures who control the conservative movement or dictate the direction of conservative presidential administrations.

The Source of Christian Unity

Having said all that, there is a bond that holds evangelical Christians together. The source of our unity is not difficult to figure out. He is the God of Israel and the church. We have not surrendered to the fiction that any god will do as long as it fits your personal specifications for self-gratification. There is no taste among serious Christians for a return to paganism. Thankfully, we were delivered from that strangulation 2,000 years ago, and we do not wish to go back.

We are also unified by a common foundation: the Bible and the truth that emanates from it. Its moral absolutes and standards of conduct constituted the Judeo-Christian moorings America’s Founding Fathers laid down as basic to making this country what it has become.

We are not robots or sinister defectors who are dangerously out of the mainstream and, therefore, a threat to society. Yes, we do take our values to our communities and to the polls when we vote. It is the right—no, the obligation—of free people everywhere to do so. And if you want proof, check out “render to Caesar” (Mk. 12:17).